The AKER programme aims to improve the competitiveness of sugar beet in France in an international context that is marked by increasing global demand and the predominance of sugar cane.

120910-006The 8-year AKER programme forms part of the "Programme d'Investissements d'Avenir" launched by the French Authorities as part of the "Agence Nationale de la Recherche". With a budget of € 18.5 million and a resource of 1 765 person-months of researchers, the programme is supported by 11 public and private partners in the French beet-sugar-alcohol sector.

The AKER programme will first expand the genetic variability of sugar beet by providing a collection of genes from resources around the world. Then it will increase the value of AKER genetic material obtained by crossing with elite material, to produce new varieties with high potential for use by the industry.

This programme calls for the use of high throughput genotyping (genome analysis) equipment with the associated data processing and statistical support, as well as new methods of phenotyping (assessment of plant characteristics).

The AKER programme, focusing on research, development and training, aims to double the annual increase of sugar beet yield from 2% to 4%, and contribute to the development of sugar beet as a crop and industry reference.